HOW TO BE A TV STAR
JOSH THOMAS, THE CREATOR, WRITER AND STAR OF PLEASE LIKE ME ON MAKING THE HIT SHOW, MEETING LENA DUNHAM AND CRASHING HOLLYWOOD’S BEST PARTIES.
We’ve just ruined Josh Thomas’s day off. He only woke up 40 minutes ago and instead of relaxing or playing with his dog, John, he’s talking to GQ from his Melbourne home. Thomas just wrapped the latest season of Please Like Me, the first ABC scripted comedy in 20 years to last for four seasons. “I read that, too,” he says, when we raise it. “I don’t know if that’s true.” It is true. But, as a mark of the show’s success, it’s a fairly humble one. After all, the series currently airs in both the US and UK, has won praise from Lena Dunham and – by his own admission – made Mr Thomas instantly recognisable “in any gay bar in the world”. Impressive stuff.
GQ: Did you imagine you’d be doing a fourth season when you started out? Josh Thomas:
No, I couldn’t have thought forward four seasons. My brain’s not that big. We barely know what’s happening at the end of each season when we start it. But it’s not an intensively plotted show – it’s not Lost.
GQ: How does the whole thing come together? JT:
The first season, I’d never written a show before and so they teamed me up with Liz Doran, our script producer. [Co-star] Tom [Ward] and Liz come to my house and there’s five days where we plot out the season. Then Liz turns that into a scene breakdown and we write it. That’s it.
GQ: What’s the best part of the creative process? JT:
I like that you don’t have to do the same thing all year – it changes every month or two. But writing is the worst because you have nothing ahead of you and you have to fill it. It’s insufferable. Once you have the scripts, it’s fun because you have an instruction manual for what to do the rest of the time.
GQ: It’s a comedy, but it hits on some pretty hard stuff. Which is more fun to write? JT:
The emotional things give momentum. Those shows where people just stand around telling jokes, I find dull. The sad bits make the jokes funnier, and the jokes make the sad bits a bit sadder. You want to have both.
GQ: What would surprise people about making a TV show? JT:
How everything you see was put there. Someone decided to put that object there, that person’s outfit, how their hair was cut. You look at the extras in the background and every single one of them was chosen.
GQ: What’s Lena Dunham like? JT:
She’s the nicest person. Lovely, quite loud, very funny and kind. Exactly how you’d imagine Lena Dunham to be.
GQ: You’ve spent a bit of time in the US. What’s the most ‘showbiz’ moment of your career so far? JT:
Someone took me to Kristen Wiig’s birthday party. I didn’t know who Kristen Wiig was until I saw her there. We sort of broke in and there was Judd Apatow, Amy Poehler, [ SNL creator] Lorne Michaels and [ 30 Rock star] Jack Mcbrayer.
GQ: Did you schmooze at all? JT:
God, no. I wasn’t really meant to be there, so I just sat in the corner in the dark. I felt very out of place. Please Like Me season four debuts November 9, 9.30pm, ABC